Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Disability Assessments - Day 1

The morning began with hot chips from the side of our first dirt road out to Chibwata.   Hot salty oily small potatoes - cholestoral heaven!!

Whilst waiting to for our chips to be cooked a man rides past on his push bike with at least 10 egg cartons with at least 24 eggs on each tray tied to the back of his bike.  If only I had been quick enough to whip out my camera!!  If you have ever seen Malawian roads just to stay upright on a push bike with nothing strapped to the back is a feat in itself!

We travel along for almost an hour along the red dirt roads until we arrive at Chibwata school where our first lot of disability assessments were to take place.  As soon as my long and very white leg hits the ground after crawling out of the 2 door pajero we are surrounded by what seems like 100 primary school students staring into my very blue and mzungu eyes!  It's times like these that I feel like Darren Lockyer, Angelina Jolie, Justin Bieber & the Queen all rolled in to one.  Quite frankly - undeserved!

We are then ushered into the principal's office which is the size of most Western people's bathroom.  Looking at his walls and taking it all in the school services 879 students, with what appears to be 4 to 6 classrooms. 

After a typical Malawian introduction and wait we are finally able to start our disability assessments.
Today we (the Landirani committee members and I) did basic assessments on 14 individuals.  The majority today appeared to have polio.

One of the more interesting cases was of an older woman by Malawian standards in her mid forties who woke up one morning when she was about 10-15 years old with a swollen lower right leg.  She managed to get to the hospital where they proceeded to operate and take out her right tibia.  For those that know a bit of anatomy, without your tibia most of the population wouldn't be able to walk.  Her parents died approximately 10-15 years ago and since then she has not been receiving any pain medication as she can't walk the distances to get any.  A simple case of someone going to market, or the closest clinic for other medications could get some for her, but it is the stigma and lack of understanding associated with disabilities has prevented this from happening.  She walks in an amazing fashion considering her condition with a stick she made herself.  Just one of the many stories we heard today.

I drove home today back along the challenging roads - managed not to kill anyones dinner of chicken and apart from sending my fellow passengers flying once over a misjudged out of the blue speed bump got home safely via the chitenje (material/cloth) shop.

Overall a successful and eye opening day.

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